Why traditional methods of contraception don't always workMonday, July 13, 2020
NATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING BOARD
OUR grandmothers and great grandmothers have long since sworn by traditional family planning methods. Why take a pill when you just need to know how your body works? Yes, traditional family planning methods do work for many, but definitely not for all, and not all the time. After all, almost half (47 per cent) of all pregnancies in Jamaica are unplanned, majority of which were the result of either failed traditional methods or no contraceptive methods at all.
Traditional methods of family planning are basically methods that do not use modern contraceptives or require a surgical procedure. These methods include fertility awareness methods (basal body temperature method, sympto-thermal method and calendar-rhythm method) and withdrawal. These methods are only 76 per cent and 78 per cent effective, respectively.
Fertility awareness methods involve a process of monitoring cycle days, basal body temperature and vaginal discharge. As biology has proven, there is a certain time during a woman's menstrual cycle when she is most fertile. Counting the first day of bleeding as day one, her most fertile time would be between days eight and 19. In other words, if she has unprotected sex during days eight and 19 of her cycle, there is a higher possibility of her getting pregnant. These are the days that she would most likely ovulate.
This calendar-based method also assumes that days one through seven and days 20 through 28 (or whenever her period begins) are “safe” days. “Safe” days are days when a woman would not be ovulating and is least likely to get pregnant. Many women who utilise this method schedule unprotected sex during this time. But for women in steady relationships, how often do we really stick to this schedule?
Things can change
Biology has also proven that as the seasons can change, so can our menstrual cycles. The menstrual cycle can change without warning and you will realise that your period is earlier or later than usual, or you may ovulate earlier or later than usual as well. These changes can be brought on by changes in our environment, diet, weight and even emotional changes like stress or depression. As a result, sticking to a strict calendar method may not always work, and for many resulted in an unplanned or mistimed pregnancy.
For those days when it may not be considered “safe”, there is another family planning method called withdrawal. Withdrawal is when the male “pulls out” just before ejaculation. This practice, if timed correctly, eliminates the deposit of sperm into the vagina, making pregnancy less likely to occur. However, the presence of pre-ejaculation or “pre-cum” increases the possibility of pregnancy in many cases. Coupled with the hopeful skills of the man in his pull-out game, this method can be difficult and is actually one of the least effective in preventing pregnancy.
Traditional methods also provide absolutely no protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. As it stands, only the male or female condom can provide this kind of protection.
Traditional methods of family planning require much skill and concentration. If you are one to generally be forgetful and have the occasional surprise sex, traditional methods may not be for you.
A more effective choice
The National Family Planning Board provides information and counselling on the various family planning methods. Modern family planning methods are highly effective, once used correctly. These include male and female condoms, the pill, the injectable, the implant, the intra-uterine device and female or male sterilisation. One method may not suit everyone, so we recommend talking to a health care provider to find out which one is best for you.
Visit www.jnfpb.org for more information on family planning.
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